I probably shouldn't start a letter to you with such a strong statement (or sentiment), but I just couldn't help it.
I doDear Locke Lamora,
I love you.
I probably shouldn't start a letter to you with such a strong statement (or sentiment), but I just couldn't help it.
I do; I just do. Not just because of your outwardly cool, debonair demeanor when you're in full-on Confidence Man mode. Not because of your jaw-dropping irreverence or your sharply honed wit or your striking intelligence (you take "thinking outside the box" one step further...maybe thinking outside the box and tossing whatever's inside or outside over a cliff, perhaps?). Not because you've proven that you don't have to be a man's man, all grrr-argh-foooood!-wooomaaaaan!-football-chug-a-lug-a-lug!-urgh-agh and whatnot, to prove that you are all man.
No, I love you because of how much you love others: blindly and loyally and foolishly and completely and utterly and stupidly and...and...and darn it, I've run out of appropriate adjectives, good and bad.
Your relationship with Jean has always been the truest, the deepest, eclipsing any of your other relationships. How I wish I had what you two have. I don't even feel that way towards my BFF, much as I love her, and she's been my BFF for a quarter of a century. I'm glad you have Jean and he has you. You're the yin to his yang, or vice versa, depending on the day. You complete each other.
Your devotion to and respect for long-gone friends---Calo and Galdo and Chains and even Bug---is something one only hopes for, because in the end, most of us only wish to be remembered, and you do that splendidly. (I do miss the twins horribly!)
And Sabetha. I don't even know where to start with your utter devotion and constancy toward Sabetha. I wanted to wring her neck, the way how she treated you. How she keeps treating you. And despite all that...despite all that she's done and continues to do, you not only hold her in the highest esteem, but you listen to her and you know her, you know her heart and her needs and you give her space. You give her a reason to come back. Not many men are worth that.
Oh, Locke Lamora, if only you were real...
Dear Jean Tannen,
I love you.
Now, don't think me inconstant to Locke, because it's not like that. Not at all. I love you for all different reasons. Well...okay, maybe one reason is the same: Locke will always be your true north, your one and only, your soulmate, the lid to your pot, all this, in spite of how many other women come into your lives (or Sabetha, for him).
It's a friendship, just about as solid and real as it can get: rocky, loyal, tempestuous, faithful, cutting, caring. I don't know how many times you've suffered at Locke's hands, how many times you've nursed him back to health when he's given up time and again, how many times you've saved his life, both physically and emotionally (only someone who cares so much would try to knock that much sense back into someone as stubborn as him). I think if one of you dies, the other would be beyond bereft and would have no reason to go on. You'd be like an amputee, feeling ghost pains, hearing ghost voices. It's so sad. And I'm jealous.
But I love you for other reasons, too. For one thing, you are a study in opposites. You're a well-read, highly educated intelligent bruiser. Your brain is as sharp as your axes, and you're as likely to pulverize someone with your brains and your brawn. You are a gentle giant, built like a boulder but all soft and warm and fuzzy on the inside. I like to think of you as a buckyball with a warm custard center that oozes out every so often. Yummy!
Oh, Jean Tannen, if only you were real...
Dear Scott Lynch,
I love you. You are officially one of my favorite authors now. You've created a set of characters so richly drawn, so infinitely layered that with each book, it's like peeling away at an onion: we learn more about each of these people you've created, and sometimes it hurts and it stings, but sometimes it's pleasant and sweet, and always, always surprising.
And your writing. I have nothing to complain about. You were blessed by all thirteen gods, and if I were a betting person, I'd say you'd be an Eldren yourself. Who has that much talent? Why aren't you better known? You need a better publicist.
Now here's the thing. How you ended this book? Killer.
It got me right here (jabbing at my heart) and left me with palpitations, a few tears, and definitely, definitely, some sweaty palms and a feeling of abject dread.
I was not a happy camper. Oh, believe me, I loved the book. Loved it. Loved the play within the story (quite Shakespearean of you), loved the Carl Sandberg snippets, loved the back and forth in time. I have nothing to complain about, as far as all that goes.
But that ending? My God. That ending. Now, all I can think of is that you are going to kill off Locke and Jean in the most miserable, most despicable, most horrific way possible. And I can't wait until the fourth book comes out. (Word to the wise: do not leave us hanging for as long as you did with Republic of Thieves! That was brutal!) I want it to come out and I don't. I'm very torn. But I want it to come out more...because you made me need to know what's going to happen to Locke and Jean.
And your little prophecy? Aaaggghhh...why, Scott Lynch, why? You didn't have to be such a cruel man. Actually, you don't. You can still turn it around.
Now, I'm not saying you can't kill Locke or Jean or give either of them a worthy death (cf. -Mark Lawrence's Emperor of Thorns: fantastic ending to the series, my only other 5-star book this year), if you are so inclined to kill him or Jean off. I get it; some characters need to die and die in such a glorious, jaw-dropping way (Good old Ned Stark comes to mind) to send a message. I was heartbroken when Jorg died because...well, because the lout grew on me. Couldn't stand the kid in the first half of Prince of Thorns but as the story progressed, I got to know him better and I understood why he was the way he was. And I respected the fact that he was so unapologetic about how and why he did things. (view spoiler)[And Mark Lawrence was unapologetic about killing Jorg too, but he did it for the right reasons. It made sense, it saved the world. (hide spoiler)]
If you decide to off with Jean's or Locke's head(s), I will understand. I just ask that you make it worthy. That you don't cheapen it and kill either (or both) off just for the heck of it (take that, Veronica Roth, for your silly ending to Allegiant). That if they have to suffer, let them suffer but also offer them succor, offer them something worthy and worthwhile (I know, I know, you can't bring Ezri back for Jean...but how about a Sabetha and Locke reunion...a bittersweet reunion?) so that the rest of us can breathe easier, maybe feel a bit better about the inevitable.
And please, can you pull back a bit on your crazed and maimed fiend? Man, I have never met such an antagonist that gave me the willies as much as this monstrosity you've created. I re-read your Epilogue thrice, not for pleasure certainly, but to convince myself that you've created a thoroughly bone-chillingly Evil, with a capital 'e'. Consider me convinced. And scared.
I so fear for Locke and Jean's future, and for that, I hate you Scott Lynch. Just a smidgeon. An infinitesimal smidgeon. You can barely even feel it, really, but I just wanted to let you know.
Okay, so towards the end of Insurgent, I sat there for a few moments and thought, "Gee
What. In. The. World. Was That?!?!
What just happened?
Okay, so towards the end of Insurgent, I sat there for a few moments and thought, "Gee, did Veronica Roth just write herself into a corner? That was probably one of the craziest endings, and not in a good way. Now how is she going to write herself out of it?"
Did she write her way out of her conundrum? Did she come up with a creative solution to the ending of Insurgent? Did she turn the tables on us? Make us sit up? Stand up? Raise our fists? Cheer?
Ummm, I'm pretty sure I didn't do any of the above. There were inklings, sure, scattered here and there. But did any of it truly get me excited, as excited as I was after Divergent? No, not really, which left me sad. Annoyed. And frustrated.
I had looked forward to this book, darn it! I looked forward to seeing what Four and Tris would do, where the story took them. What creative way Roth would come up with during this third act.
In reality, there were so many plot holes and head-scratching moments during Allegiant that I had to put it down multiple times and walk away. Sure, I liked parts of it: getting Tobias' POV, how Tris and Four finally understood what being in a relationship meant, Tris and Caleb playing Candor, the expansion of Cara's, Christina's and Uriah's characters, the transformation of O'Hare into a bureaucratic facility. There were some things that were worthwhile and made me want to continue reading.
But the parts that left me going "Huh?!?" were more numerous: - The GD vs. GP war (really, we're going to go there?) - How gullible everyone was, buying into genetic purity (made me think of Khan and his eugenics war) - How self-righteous and smug Tris could be - How Tobias could end up so wrong, so unsure of himself, so unlike the Four from the previous books - How one-dimensional Tobias' parents were - How stupid Tris' plan was...and how crazy it was that everyone went along with her - How biological warfare has been in existence for so long, especially in our time, that it boggles the mind that this novel, set centuries in the future, still hasn't gotten it right
I'm also not convinced that Tris' fate was really all that necessary. (view spoiler)[I've read two books this year where the main character sacrificed his or her life to save their loved ones/humanity: Mark Lawrence's uber-fantastic-still-gives-me-chills-and-brings-a-tear-to-my-eye-each-time-I-think-about-it Emperor of Thorns and this one. Jorg's death left me crying out "Nooooo!" It left me dumbfounded and for a long while, I sat there, stunned, knowing there was no other possible way he could have ended it. And that made it worthwhile.
I didn't feel that at all. If anything, I saw it a mile away, and it left me with some pretty tired eyes from all the eye rolling.
I felt that Tris' death was another way to get an extra fifty pages out of the novel. It was a way to extend a story that had gone on too long. And worse, it was a way to add drama where it wasn't needed. There was already so much going on, that when it came, it seemed so pointless. I'm not sure that her death actually pushed the story forward. Roth could have accomplished the same ending without killing Tris off. (hide spoiler)]
I thought what Roth did was self-indulgent. Could she have accomplished a similar ending without making Tris go through all that? Yes, absolutely, especially since Tobias still had to maneuver around what was happening in Chicago.
Was Roth trying to make a point about Tris' intrinsic selflessness, her comprehension of what it meant to be Abnegation? To be the person she felt her parents would approve of? Sure.
Was Roth trying to show how people's spirits hurt, grieve, move on, heal over time? That each person you love becomes a part of you, and can never be torn from you (except if you take memory serum)? Yes. The characters mirrored Chicago: broken, hurting, on their last legs. But is rebirth possible? Yes, to a degree.
I get all that.
But again, what she did didn't leave this reader convinced that what happened to Tris was the only rational way to end the story. That it was the only true course left to her, that there was no other possible way around it. And because I wasn't convinced of these things, I felt that it was a cheap ending.
A cheap ending that went on too long.
It wasn't a bad book, but it certainly wasn't what I was hoping it would be. Nevertheless, I don't regret reading it. I enjoyed the first two, and while this one left me wanting, maybe that's okay. Maybe it's enough. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A few things you need to know before reading Divergent:
1. While comparisons have been made between The Hunger Games trilogy and the Divergent trilogy,A few things you need to know before reading Divergent:
1. While comparisons have been made between The Hunger Games trilogy and the Divergent trilogy, the only things they have common are that they take place in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic America (in this case, Chicago) and that the heroine is a similarly aged teenage girl. Beyond that, they really don’t have much in common.
2. Like other YA dystopian novels out there, you need to be aware of the following things:
a. Whatever disaster occurred to make this world the place that it is will not be addressed, only alluded to. Roth drops hints here and there (i.e., Lake Michigan and the Chicago River are marshes; only the south side of Chicago is inhabited; technology exists, but is used sparingly and is controlled by one faction). She does not provide explanations for why this is the case. Don’t hold your breath. You won’t get any.
b. This happens in the near future, but how far in the future is unclear. It can’t be too far off, as many things that are common to us are familiar to the characters in the novel. For example, people still wear jeans and t-shirts. They know what banjos and paintball are. Cars and computers are still used, though sparingly. Public transportation exists.
c. This society is a fairly restricted one, meant to be completely self-sustaining. And like in Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy, there is the suggestion that other people live outside of the gates of this society, but as of this book, no mention is made whether any other states or countries exist.
d. And if you do wonder if other societies exist (because you just can’t let it go…like me), and wonder if they follow the same structure of having five different factions, you will be sorely disappointed as this is not touched upon at all.
Having done with the warnings and disclaimers, I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. More than I wanted to. Certainly, more than I expected to. When I was about halfway through, I couldn’t believe I was actually leaning towards giving it a solid four stars. I do that sparingly. That this book made me feel that way that early on was a testament to how compelling the narrative was (for me), and how much I was drawn into Tris’ story. I had started off, ready to get my full-on cynical “Oh, this is another one of those books” snappishness in place, but…I was pleasantly surprised. That doesn’t happen often.
First thing I liked: right off the bat, this novel has introduced our young adult readers to at least six, count ’em six SAT words: abnegation, erudite, amity, candor, dauntless and divergent. And in a thoroughly creative way, too, so that the meanings of the words are retained long after the average teen has put down this book and forgotten where they placed it. (Sigh…I was hoping my cynicism wouldn’t pop up in this review…blame it on my now-current aversion to the word “glowering” and all its forms, because of Stephenie Meyer’s conspicuously high usage of the word in the Twilight series. Seriously, every other sentence had someone glowering. *shudders*)
But in all seriousness, I liked it for a variety of reasons. Most important to me was that Tris was not a Katniss clone. So much had been written about how these two series were similar, how the heroines were similar---even the movie has critics wondering if Divergent will be the new Hunger Games---that I was glad they weren’t. Everything I liked about Katniss---how independent she was, how she knew exactly who she was, how she was wise beyond her years and had equal amounts of selflessness and self-preservation---these were all lacking in Tris. And I was okay with that.
Divergent, at it’s heart, is really a story of a young sheltered girl discovering who she is and what she believes in. It’s a story of recognizing one’s limits, of accepting the good and the bad in yourself, and being okay with that. It’s about coming to accept a different lifestyle than the one you grew up with and knowing that your growth isn’t limited to what you were taught, or what you know, but on how you adapt to the constant shifts that occur in life.
Throughout the story, she discovers that strength isn’t all about the physical, that bravery isn’t about pushing ones’ self so much as being selfless, and that not fitting into any one category is actually okay. That you don’t need to be pigeonholed even though everyone else around you is.
And yes, there is a love story. These days, I don’t think you can get away with this kind of YA story and not have a love story. That’s part of the whole YA package, the experience. But Tris’ love interest was actually believable and sympathetic (ummm…how can you not fall for a guy who says “Fine. You’re not pretty. So?...I like how you look. You’re deadly smart. You’re brave.”). There weren’t as many eye-rolling moments in this romance. And unlike other stories where there are love triangles (and where, invariably, I will fall for the guy the heroine rarely ever ends up with), this one did not. Thank goodness.
Yes, she got annoying at times. Oh, she waffled and was immature, and she got oh-so-whiny more than once. But you know what? She’s a sixteen year old girl who’s only ever known one thing: abnegation. When one is taught, from childhood on, to eschew everything in favor of what is for the betterment of society, that really takes a toll on a kid, psychologically. Not many kids will be able to hold to that belief or will be able to follow it. For children---and teens, especially---are inherently selfish and self-absorbed. At least until they go out into the world and learn what it means to become a responsible adult. And even then, most people don’t choose true and absolute altruism as a way of life. Living a benevolent, munificent life isn’t easy. It’s easier to take care of one’s self, of one’s family first, and then give to others later, but only if you can.
Well, there goes my cynical streak. I was hoping it wouldn’t rear it’s ugly head again.
But I guess that is why for me, Tris’ journey was genuine. Everything is a new experience for her, even something as simple as eating hamburgers is new. And with all the new experiences will come experimentation, failure, a lot of self-recrimination, a lot of trying to convince herself of…stuff. Her immaturity was believable, as was seeing her grow from an insecure, hesitant young girl bent on proving herself to someone of conviction and resolve. Seeing her realize that sometimes, choosing to be selfish isn’t bad, especially when you learn what it means to be altruistic and selfless in the process. It was a great ride.
I highly recommend Divergent. And I’m really looking forward to the second book…I just hope it doesn’t disappoint, as most middle books in trilogies go. (Go away, cynic.) ...more